Category Archives: Christianity

Continually for Ever and Ever

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

 

I remember thinking that King David was crazy! That’s before I “discovered” Torah, lol.

My Best Bible Study Idea Ever!

I just had a Bible study idea, and I’m kind of excited about it, so I thought I would share it with you.

I thought it would be helpful to have a Bible on file that I could directly type my questions, research, and thoughts into. Right now, I’m writing in the margins sometimes, but there just isn’t enough room, and I don’t always keep a pen handy, lol.

I think it would be neat to keep it digitally instead of in a hard copy so that I can update it year after year, as I learn new things or find better research.

I looked for DOC files of the Bible for download and only found the NIV. I prefer more literal translations, so I’m just going to go to Bible Gateway every time I start a new chapter and copy and paste it into a new file.

I’m going to bold print all of the scripture, and then when I make notes in it (right in between the verses), I’m going to normalize the text that I type.

I figured it would also be interesting to copy/paste other translations sometimes, or the original Hebrew or Greek, or Strong’s Concordance notes, etc. Pictures would even be helpful sometimes! There are just so many cool things a person could do!

If several of us decide to do this, maybe we can compare notes someday. 

8 False Assumptions about Torah-Observant Believers

torah-89074_1280Some of these were my own knee-jerk assumptions when I found out that my dad had become Torah-observant. Others are remarks that I have received from others who thought they knew what I believed before they looked into it for themselves. ALL of my friends who have since looked into it have realized that I am not a heretic. Some of them have come to the understanding that living by God’s instructions cannot possibly be bad for us. Others still believe that I am holding myself to an unnecessary, burdensome standard. I urge you to look into these matters and decide for yourself.

False Assumption #1. You are relying on works for salvation.

No. No I’m not. My salvation is 100% dependent on the fact that Christ lived a perfect life and died for my sins. In fact, I have never met a single Torah-observant believer who thinks that salvation can be earned.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9

#2. You place more value in the Old Testament than in the New.

I believe that the Old Testament contains godly instructions for living that are applicable to all men. The gospels show us how Christ was the only man to ever obey the Father perfectly. Most of the rest of the New Testament teaches us how to apply those instructions to our own lives once we have been adopted into the covenant that God made with Israel.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

#3. You think you have secret knowledge.

The Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) contains the standards of righteousness given by God to His covenant people. These instructions make up the oldest religion in the world – the Father’s religion. These instructions have been available and accessible to everyone who grew up with a Bible in their home. Anyone who has ever read the Torah has read that it is a blessing because the Father says so Himself:

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” Deuteronomy 30:19

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16

#4. You are disrespecting Christ’s sacrifice.

By refraining from what He came to save us from (sin) and by following His righteous example?

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1, 2

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4

“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” I John 2:6

#5. You think you are Jewish.

Not a member of the tribe of Judah specifically (a Jew), but part of Israel in general. All who enter into the marriage covenant (the members of the bride of Christ) are born again to become part of spiritual Israel. It doesn’t matter whether we were originally part of the lost 10 tribes that He came to restore, or whether we were strangers who have been adopted into the commonwealth of Israel. We are born again; we are grafted in (to Israel).

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” Isaiah 56:6-8

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Ephesians 2:12

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” Romans 11:17, 18

#6. You think you are better than other Christians.

My obedience has nothing to do with other Christians and everything to do with pleasing God. Do you refrain from committing adultery because you are trying to earn your salvation or because you are trying to boast in righteousness? No. For the same reason that you choose to remain faithful to your spouse, I choose to remain faithful to my God. Love.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

#7. Your obedience to Torah makes you judgmental.

I insist that I am less judgmental than I have ever been. I realize that all Christians who are still eating bacon are doing so because they have no idea that the Father gave them good instructions and desires for them to choose physical life over death in the here and now (and not just eternal, spiritual life). I know they aren’t rebelling against God’s instructions on purpose because I used to be in the same boat. Using the same exact reasoning, I understand that homosexuals, fornicators, thieves, drunkards, false witnesses, and even those who are worshiping other gods have no idea that our Father loves them and has given them instructions for their own good.

“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4

I think that most people have this idea that the Christian God makes up silly rules for no other reason than to control and restrict them. (This is the same image that mainstream Christians have of parts of the Torah that don’t make sense to them.)

Part of the reason that folks have this idea is because of the Pharisees, the Catholics, and other denominations over the years that have gone to great lengths to control and oppress the people through their mad-made restrictions, pronouncing eternal consequences upon the heads of the “heretics.” What they don’t understand is that God’s instructions have never been burdensome – only beneficial. The reason it’s so hard to correct this perception is because folks don’t read their Bibles with open eyes (if they even read them at all), and because they don’t trust the Old Testament enough to give His instructions a sporting chance (to discover that they are a blessing and easy to follow).

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” I John 5:3

#8. You are behaving like the Pharisees.

Nope. Uh-uh. The Pharisees added and removed from the Torah, and this is the very reason that Jesus came down so hard on them. The Pharisees invented man-made restrictions in addition to God’s perfect instructions and created loopholes in some of God’s instructions that they didn’t want to keep. Jesus kept His FATHER’S instructions perfectly and openly rebelled against man-made traditions. This is precisely what I seek to do in my own life (although I am not brave enough to be so open in my rebellion against the man, lol).

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” Mark 7:13

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Matthew 23:23

 

Can you see with your eyes and hear with your ears?

I know we have been trained to disassociate ourselves from Israel, but many of us, possibly even most of us (all of us?) belong to one of the lost 10 tribes that never returned from Assyrian captivity. We have been scattered among the nations, but now we are waking up. The Father is drawing us back to Him and His life-giving ways. We are the prodigal son, stirring ourselves, coming to our senses after a deep sleep.

So it’s kind of jarring when we realize that the following passage is being directed at us, you and me, and that it applies to us right now, in 2018, and not only to some long, lost nation that existed thousands of years ago that we don’t even associate ourselves with:

“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:”

Jeremiah 5:21

How Do You Personally Decide Which Doctrines Are Biblically Sound?

Take the poll, and then come back here for discussion.

For even more discussion, hop over to my FaceBook page.

Note: I tried to word the poll in a way that would apply to all people who have ever heard of the Bible, regardless of their opinions about it. I’m not asking which doctrines you believe are true (if any), or even if you think the Bible is true. I merely want to know how you decide if a doctrine is established by the writers of the Bible.

On a second line of thought,  do you think there are any doctrines that are suggested in one or two places in the Bible, yet are not upheld by the whole Bible? I am asking this question, not only of those who do not believe in the inerrant Word, but of those who are confused by a few [seemingly] contradictory passages.

Personally, I believe there are perfectly logical answers to clear up any confusion or so-called contradictions, but we may have to lay aside some commonly-held doctrines to remove the veil of darkness that disables us from seeing what should be the clear truth of the matter.

If a Sinner Can’t Be Saved, then Who Is Salvation for, Anyway?

If God’s instructions are obsolete, then Vicky Beeching is not trespassing them.

1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Romans 4:15 “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”

Christ came and sacrificed His life, because without Him paying the death penalty in my behalf, the curse of the Law would still very much be hanging over my head.

And you know what? The Law no longer hangs over Vicky’s head either, if she is a Redeemed person. And a Redeemed person is not a perfect one. By its very definition, a Redeemed person deserves the death penalty.

All men have sold themselves to sin (and death by extension). At some point, all Christians have realized their inability to get themselves out of that sin debt, and have put their faith in Christ who has purchased their eternal life back for them (in accordance with the blessings of the Law, which comes through obedience – not the individual Christian’s obedience, but Christ’s obedience).

Vicky most likely loves the Lord but doesn’t quite understand that He wants what’s best for her. She doesn’t quite understand that God’s instructions were given to her for her benefit, to keep her healthy, and to give her an abundant life in the here and now – until we enter the world to come. She doesn’t quite understand how to please Him, because if she did, she probably would. In fact, most Christians I know don’t know what exactly the Father wants, but if they did, they would obey Him in a heartbeat – at any cost.

But is it really any wonder that she doesn’t know better?

“Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” Ezekiel 22:26

Poor Vicky has been lied to by modern doctrine. The church no longer knows the true definition of sin, and satan has used the church to sell her (and everyone else) one big, fat lie. The lie that there is no standard for sin. The lie that if there ever was a standard for sin, our (unchanging) Father has changed His mind. The lie that the only thing He wants from us is to love the Father and our neighbor according to our OWN individual definitions of love and not God’s definition.

Well, Vicky is doing precisely what the church has taught her to do. She is loving people and God the way she thinks it’s okay to love. It’s not the correct way, but it’s all she knows. It’s really sad that she thinks that living in sin (by God’s definition) can in any way be good for her or be pleasing to the Father. But Vicky’s sin won’t prevent her from being Redeemed. (Not any more than a BLT will keep a Redeemed person out of the kingdom of God.)

So why worry about it then if she can get by with sin and still be Redeemed? Why even call sin out if a saved person can sin without losing her salvation? Well, what was the point of the Law to begin with? Surely God knew that none of us would keep it and earn our own eternal life. Surely He knew THAT from the very beginning. Surely He knew that Christ would have to live a perfect life and then die as our substitute. The truth is, He never expected anyone (except His own Son) to be able to keep it perfectly.

I can think of a few reasons why it was given.

1) Because they are HIS ways, and HIS people should want to know His righteousness.
2) Because He needed a standard by which to judge sin.
3) Because we needed a standard for meting out justice in the land of Israel (where God’s people ratified these Laws and agreed to live by them).
4) Because knowing what sin is helps us understand that we aren’t perfect – knowing what sin is helps us understand our need for a Savior.
5) Because children – immature believers (who don’t necessarily want to do what’s right) need instruction until they reach maturity (and now have the desire to do what’s right).
6) Because Christ’s sinless life was evidence to those around Him (and to those reading about Him) that He is the living Torah – the promised Redeemer who would do ALL His Father’s will.
7) Because God wanted us to know how to live happy, healthy lives. Remember, if we keep all of these instructions, they lead to eternal life. (That’s what Christ did FOR us.) So it follows then, that keeping as many as possible certainly lead to a more abundant life.

So what’s the big deal with sin? If I don’t believe that we will lose our salvation over it or that we can lose our ability to get saved over it, then why do I teach so much about the Law?

Because I want what God wants! And I know, that if you knew what He wanted, you would want that too! I want you to be happy and healthy, to understand that His ways are better, to understand that we ALL need a Redeemer, to stop pointing fingers at other sinners (who many times do not even know they are sinning). I want to see an increased desire among Christians to be part of the new covenant (in which He writes His Law on our hearts). I want holy spirit to give you the DESIRE to obey His righteousness.

So Vicky engages in homosexual activities. What’s going to happen to her? The wages of sin is death. Eternal death is what Christ came to Redeem us from. Eternal life is what He bought for us. This is the same life and death that the Father warned us about when He gave us His instructions. He said, do these things and live. If you rebel against my instructions, you will die. (If you don’t think it’s that simple, read Deuteronomy. Or read Genesis. The instructions to Adam are very similar and easy to understand.)

So what does this mean for Vicky? Instead of being excommunicated from the blood of Christ (which isn’t a thing), she will have other problems – health problems, emotional problems, hormonal problems – whatever it was that God was trying to prevent physically in our lives by instructing us not to commit homosexual acts, that’s what she’ll suffer from. If it’s true that the wages of sin is death, then somewhere, somehow, homosexuality works death in a person’s body. But don’t you dare forget that God is in the business of Redeeming us from eternal death. If He can redeem you from death by pork ingestion, He can redeem her from whatever death is at work in her body.

Maybe you think that Christ’s blood isn’t powerful enough to ransom a person who calls herself a homosexual? Or maybe you think she has to turn from her homosexuality before she can get saved? If that’s true, then God cannot save you either until you are willing to give up your bacon.

The fact is, salvation is not at all works-based. Read the book of Galatians. If we have to earn or maintain our salvation, then it is not a free gift. People sin. God saves.

Concerns from the Book of Hebrews

I’ve been communicating with several people lately on the topic of Torah and whether it is still true for today’s believers. Invariably, the book of Hebrews is quoted to me, along with interpretations that point toward lawlessness. Here are some of the verses that people bring up while suggesting that the Law is no longer valid.

I just want to state for the record that I do not believe that anybody’s salvation depends upon obedience to the Law. Our salvation was earned through Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, and He is the only way to salvation. When folks hear that our family makes an effort to keep the commandments, some of them automatically think that I believe we have to keep the Law, but I know we don’t have to. Torah observance isn’t about having to keep it but rather wanting to keep it.

It’s the difference between not not stealing because you’re afraid of losing your salvation (which I don’t believe can happen anyway) and not stealing because you don’t want to sin against our loving Father (assuming you were in the mood to steal anyway, I suppose). And not even having the desire to steal is a blessing of His holy spirit because His righteousness is always at odds with our fleshly nature, which is to rebel and get by with as much as possible. He truly does write His Law in our hearts.

Let’s get started by looking at Hebrews 7:18:

“For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.”

Last year, I wrote an article about this passage. You can find it here. I have been studying and studying since then, and I am not sure that my interpretation was entirely correct. I do not claim to have complete understanding of these verses, but I do know what this verse means: “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.” Jeremiah 33:18. And that verse makes impossible the modern interpretation of Hebrews 7:18.

Also, if you look at these two blog posts (1 and 2), you will begin to understand the big picture of why I believe the way I do. In a nutshell, I believe Jesus when He used the authority of Torah to rebuke satan during His temptation in the wilderness: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. I believe that any time a matter of doctrine comes into question, we can search the Torah and see if that’s what has been written. The Bereans believed the same as I do, checking everything Paul taught them against the scriptures and making sure that what he said aligned with the very Words of God Himself. I believe we should do the same.

Next, let’s take a look at Hebrews 8:7-9:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”

In the old covenant, God found fault with “them” (verse 8), not with the Law. The Law is perfect, righteous, holy, good, but the people broke it. In the new covenant, He put his Law in their hearts, to enable them to obey out of desire. We still don’t obey it perfectly, but Christ did, fulfilling the human obligation to keep the covenant in order to obtain eternal life. Anyway, the Law is an integral part of both covenants, new and old. We don’t keep it out of obligation, but out of a hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God.

In addition, I would like to add that the Levitical and Melchizedekian priesthoods certainly can coexist. The Melchizidekian priesthood was around before the Levitical priesthood. There has never been any fault with the Melchizedekian priesthood, so it was not replaced by the Levitical one.

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” Galatians 3:17

The Melchizedekian priesthood is the true priesthood – the body, if you will. The shadow cast by that body is the Levitical one. It is the object lesson that helps us understand the true, spiritual priesthood. Bodies and their shadows can certainly coexists. Spiritual and physical realities can certainly coexist.

Here’s my take on the book of Hebrews: The Jews were under attack and were getting ready to lose the temple and the Levitical ministry. They had continued to keep the Law (including Levitical regulations) after salvation, and this presented absolutely no problems, as made obvious by Romans 3:31, Acts 26:22, and the fact that Paul went with the men who had Nazarite vows (unless you think that Paul was two-faced and didn’t practice what he preached). Along comes 70AD and the impending destruction of the physical temple. Suddenly, the Jews realized that they would no longer have an earthly high priest to offer the continual burnt offering and others, and I think they probably freaked out because they still didn’t understand that Jesus is our spiritual high priest, and that we do have a continual advocate with the Father, and that His ministry is older and better and perfect – completely covering sin for all time. This explains why the writer of Hebrews continues to use present tense in the verses speaking of the Levitical ministry, as though they are still legitimate, and why he said that the Levitical priesthood was getting ready to pass away, instead of saying that it had already passed away when Jesus became our high priest. It seems to me like these things should be obvious since we never hear Paul or any of the other disciples or apostles preaching that the Levitical priesthood is passed away. Since it is a physical priesthood, it is the physical destruction of Jerusalem that caused it to pass away. This is not to say that it is not still righteous. (All of God’s Laws are righteous and always will be.) This is not to say that when the priesthood is physically reinstated, that it will not still serve as the perfect object lesson for understanding Christ’s sacrifice for us. We can read in the last 10 chapters of Ezekiel that Zadok (descendants of Levi, Aaron, and Phinehas – to whom the priestly ministry was promised forever) will be reinstated as Levitical priests. Here are the promises made:

Numbers 25:11-13 (Phinehas); Exodus 29:9 (Aaron); Exodus 40:15 (Aaron); Numbers 18:8 (Aaron); Deuteronomy 18:5 (Levi); Jeremiah 33:17-21; Micah 3

Here is a bit more that I have written on the subject that may help you understand where I’m coming from. Sorry if some of it is redundant. I’m copying and pasting. Someone had asked how we can know that the Catholic priesthood is not a legitimate priesthood:

The difference is that the Catholic Church does not follow the regulations set forth for the priesthood. We know that Christ is our spiritual high priest, and that we are part of that spiritual royal priesthood, but if there is to be a legitimate physical priesthood on earth, it must follow the rules that God gave for the physical priesthood. These rules are not man-made, nor are they subject to man’s opinion of them. Hebrews 8:4 tells us that Jesus Christ Himself could not be a priest on earth because it would contradict the commandments concerning the physical priesthood: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:”

During the Millennial Reign, which you can read about in the last 10 chapters of Ezekiel, the Levitical priesthood will be reinstated. (Not because that priesthood ever took away sin, but because it is a powerful object lesson that teaches us about redemption and the function of the spiritual priesthood. That was its purpose in the Old Testament, and that will continue to be its purpose during the Millennial Reign of Christ.) “And it shall be for them an appointment as priests forever, for all generations.” (Ex. 40:15) “For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand to serve in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever.” (Deut. 18:5)

Because the Levitical priesthood is the only legitimate physical priesthood, the regulations given to them in Torah are the only legitimate regulations governing that physical priesthood. So in other words, the Catholics are doing it all wrong. They are guilty of the same sin that Jesus was always reviling the Pharisees for, and that is the complete and utter disregard for Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Since Jesse and I became Torah-observant, people have tried to catch us in hypocrisy by asking us why we aren’t still making sacrifices. What they fail to realize is that many of God’s regulations concerning the service of the priesthood cannot be carried out apart from the temple in Jerusalem, so even if the Catholics rounded up some Levites and tried to follow God’s regulations, they wouldn’t get very far because they would need the temple.)

In addition to problems with the priesthood, the Catholic Church believes they have the authority to make other changes to God’s Word. I personally believe that God’s Law is perfect, has always been perfect, and that you can’t improve on perfection. I believe that when He gave us the Law, He was describing actual righteousness to us, and not just arbitrarily inventing some things to be “bad” and some things to be “good.” If it’s true that His Law is righteous and perfect, then no one has the authority to make changes to it. Time can’t change it. Culture can’t change it. “Dispensationalism” can’t change it. The definition of righteousness is not defined by oligarchy or majority rule.

In fact, God Himself won’t break His own righteous Law because it is righteous and He is righteous, which is why He had to jump through hoops to redeem us. (For instance, a man cannot be remarried to his adulterous wife once they have been divorced. To this day, the Jews don’t understand how God is going to keep His promise to Israel and remarry them without compromising His own standard for righteousness. However, the Jews are ignorant of the Messiah’s role in redemption. God made it clear that the death of the husband fully releases the wife from the marriage. By dying Himself, He released both parties from the marriage contract, as though the marriage had never taken place. This action allows us to be remarried to Him as His pure bride.)

Hebrews 8:13:

“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

The difference between the old and new covenants is not a new law (aka, God’s righteous statutes vs. Christ’s law of love). The statutes are precisely the same. In fact the whole point of the law is love – it has always been about love. The problem is, individual human beings, especially ones that have been brainwashed by society, false religion, new doctrines, and their own willingness to engage in rationalizing sin, have different opinions about how to love God and how to love neighbor. When every man does that which is right in his own eyes, we go through dark spiritual times – as in the days of the judges. In fact, I believe we are in one of those times now: because lawlessness shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (paraphrased from Matthew 24:12). You see, one of the great purposes of the Law is to tell us God’s way to love Him and God’s way to love neighbor. He spells it out for us to lay all arguments among ourselves to rest. The difference between the old and new covenants is the place the law is written: on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah 31:33). The holy spirit enables us to WANT to keep God’s laws. It’s no longer done out of obligation, but desire.

If the Law became obsolete at the death of Christ, then how the Law will go forth from Zion during the Millennial Reign, and why there will be animal sacrifices once more? Why will the line of Zadok (descendants of Levi) minister before Him once again? The fact is that animal sacrifices never saved anyone. They are merely a shadow, an object lesson, to help us understand the reality. People will still need this object lesson, even in future. Just because the crucifixion and resurrection has already taken place, that does not mean that people will understand exactly how Christ atoned for their sins. Temple services paint a clear picture, and they are God’s way of doing things. If they weren’t, He would never have given statutes concerning them. (BTW, all his commandments are righteousness. Psalm 119:117.) His Law is the truth (Psalm 119:142), and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100:5).

Hebrews 9:9:

“Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;”

The figure is an object lesson, and that lesson is the same for all of us, whether you were born before Christ or after: that gifts and sacrifices cannot make us perfect. Sacrifices never right a wrong, they never erase a sin. The only way to be sinless is to never commit sin in the first place. Christ’s atoning blood covers our sin – He paid for it as though He were the one committing it. He didn’t erase sin. The weight of all sin fell on His head. He paid the bill in full.

Hebrews 9:10:

“Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”

The meats and drinks, diverse washings, carnal ordinances, etc are only the object lesson. They may make the body pure, but they do not erase the fact that sin has been committed. They all point forward to Christ. Once the temple is rebuilt in the Millennial Reign, they will also not make the worshipper pure, but they will point back to His atoning work. It is an object lesson, and a good one, and one that we need as long as sin remains in the world. (As made obvious by the fact that there will be sacrifices in the Millennial Reign, under the direct jurisdiction of the Messiah.) I would say that the figure was “imposed” on them until the reformation (Was the reformation the new covenant, or was it the fact that the temple was itself about to physically be destroyed? It could be a spiritual or a physical reformation and present no problems to my beliefs). Now we have entered the new covenant: we obey God’s statutes (all that we possibly can) out of desire. I think that both Jeremiah and the writer of Hebrews, and Jehovah Himself would agree with me (based on the entirety of scriptures).

Hebrews 10:9:

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

For context, start reading at the beginning of this chapter before you read what I have to say about it. You have to understand that throughout history, even when the Law was initially given and up to the present time, God would prefer for His people to obey Him, rather than disobeying and needing to kill an animal to point to Christ’s atoning work. Christ Himself never had to go to the temple in order to offer a sin offering, and the burnt offering never applied to Him (that specific offering was made every morning and every evening to be a continual covering for sin). Christ came to do God’s will, not to disobey and make sacrifices to cover disobedience. As far as taking away the first, I think that the Jews needed to go through a period of not having the temple services available to them in order to understand that Christ was their high priest. We know that there is nothing wrong with sacrifices in and of themselves: Firstly, because God commanded them, and He only gives us righteous commandments. Secondly, because they will be restored in the last days (the Millennial Reign). He wanted to firmly establish the work of Christ in the minds of believers, and perhaps there were some that couldn’t see the true body (Christ) because they were too focused on the shadow of that body (the Law). Not that the shadow is not a legitimate representation of the true. It most certainly is. It’s not an allegory invented by some church father; the allegory was instituted by the Father Himself – the one who doesn’t change with the times.

Hebrews 12:18-24:

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

This is very clearly a contrast between the old covenant and the new. Remember, the new is God’s Law written on our hearts, and by pointing out the fear and terror of those agreeing to the old covenant, this passage makes that distinction clear.

For further consideration:

It seems to me that the entirety of Hebrews 7 is a defense to the Hebrews of how in the world Jesus could be our high priest since He wasn’t in the Levitical priesthood. Because God is righteous and His Law is righteousness (Psalm 119:72), the Hebrews were well aware that God wouldn’t break His own righteous commandments. (That would make Him unrighteous.) They wanted to know why Paul claimed that a member of the tribe of Judah could suddenly be our high priest. Do you see how they were testing what he taught against the OT, to see if his doctrine was true? If he had been teaching something not in accordance with scripture, they would have had to throw out his doctrine (as would we). Turns out, there’s an easy explanation: Paul’s answer is not that the Law was annulled. He argues that Jesus can be our high priest without breaking the Law. In fact, he says in Hebrews 8:4 that if Christ had stayed on earth, He could not legally be our high priest. In order to be an earthly priest, you must be of the Levitical line. In the Millennial Reign, I believe that the sacrificial system (Zech 14, Isaiah 56) will be reinstated and ministered by the Levites: “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’” Jeremiah 33:18

Now why would Paul need to prove that Jesus could legally be our high priest? Because the Law is very much still in effect (righteousness is still righteousness) and obviously applies to Christ, who is the embodiment of righteousness. Christ, being the Word made flesh, never broke Torah in His existence, and He’s not about to start now. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Instead, Paul’s argument is that the order of Melchizedek precedes the Levitical order, and that Melchizedek’s order is the true order in heaven, the Levitical order being only a shadow of the reality. Both orders can co-exist, the perfect one in heaven and the figure of the heavenly one on earth.

How does a godly marriage relate to Christ and His body of believers?

I intend to go more in-depth about some of the concepts listed in this book during the following year, but for an overview, here is the review I left on Amazon. Follow my blog and visit this page if you are interested in hearing what’s coming up: www.theedenconcept.com 

The book is available here (just released today!), if you’d like to read it and contribute to the conversation: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1983938343

The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way, by Dana and Kimberly Williams, is an honest look at God’s plan for every marriage. It wouldn’t matter if you had been born in the dawn of creation, the dark ages, the 50s, or this millennium, this book give ageless advice because it is based on something that never changes: scripture. Within its pages, you will not only find great advice about how to proceed with your own marriage (taking many different situations into account), but you will learn how the Biblical concept of a physical marriage is God’s object lesson to help us understand our relationship with Him (our spiritual marriage) — specifically, Christ’s relationship to the body of believers as a whole. If your marriage is struggling, you will find much needed help by reading this book. If you are looking to improve an already fantastic marriage, you will find deep truths and eye-opening concepts that will help you analyze the dynamics of your marriage so you can keep it going strong for a lifetime. Above all, if you desire a closer walk with the Lord, this book offers keen insight on how to put our love for Him into action. It is full of practical things you can try right now to make a difference in your life, and would also make a great Bible study tool for individuals, couples, or groups who are longing to make a deeper connection in their physical and spiritual relationships.

This book hits on some interesting topics: equality of the sexes, gender roles in marriage, the affects of sin, the importance of the foundation of scripture for all aspects of our lives, humility, jealousy, the command to love one another (which I am convinced must manifest itself in the way we treat one another, not in the way we feel toward one another), forgiveness, finances, gossip, honor, raising children in a godly home, hypocrisy, our witness to the lost, and more. As I read through the book, I took notes that I thought would make interesting bouncing-off points for blog posts later on, and so I have my own in-depth notes concerning each of the items in the list above. What I’m trying to say is that this book is very deep, very practical, very interesting. It is definitely worth a read and some deep consideration of the many truths found within.

Some of the other strong points in this book: it does NOT fall into the category that I like to label “fluffy” Christianity. In other words, this book is not in existence to help Christians feel better about themselves even if they are living a life of sin. It exists to exhort us to good works, and it accomplishes that very well. Another thing it has going for it: it doesn’t just give you a scripture reference and leave you to look it up for yourself. We know that very rarely happens in the real world. Instead, the book includes the full text of the scriptures as they appear in your Bibles. Another strong point is that the book often goes all the way back to the Old Testament, to the very root of our beginnings to build a foundation that points us toward godliness and understanding of the age-old concept of marriage. Anyone who knows me knows how highly I value that single fact alone. Our God’s righteousness doesn’t change according to differing people groups or with the passage of time. What was right for Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, or the Israelites is still right for us today. Read this book; recommend it to your friends; you’ll be happy you did.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Jesus in the Old Testament?

Does the following passage give us a glimpse of Jesus in the Old Testament?

What do you think?

Judges 13

21 But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

23 But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

Hate, Love, and Homosexuality

Did you know that there are verses in the Bible that say that God hated Esau? (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13) I have read the verses over and over in my lifetime but never gave them much thought.

One day, a man in our church preached about it. He challenged me and compelled me to come to terms with the meaning of those passages. He and I arrived at different conclusions, but nonetheless, I am indebted to him for forcing me to look into this topic.

You see, it’s NOT okay to read the Bible, soak up the parts that sound good to us, and let the rest fall to the ground. (Which is, unfortunately, what most people do. They create their own god – based on the parts of the Bible that they like.)

The painful truth is, if the verses about God hating anyone were true, then He was not the God that I’d always believed Him to be. Or, so I thought.

I went home from that church service unable to sleep or do anything other than think about what I’d been forced to read. I stayed up late that night and got up early the next day, insistent on getting to the heart of the matter. I would not rest until I had the answers in my hand. I turned to just about every reference book I owned, searched the web, looked up every possible related passage in the Bible, wrote pages of notes. I WOULD have resolution, and I would have it soon.

Here is a note that I wrote to myself in the margin of one of those pages:

“How can we fit those verses into the same Bible? How can He be the same God? We know He is, by the many proofs we have seen (Feast days, OT points to Christ). If it doesn’t seem to fit, there must be a misunderstanding of some kind.”

You see, in the quest for truth, one thing is absolutely necessary: that we learn to be honest with ourselves.

At first, I went looking for excuses. I thought that perhaps it was okay to hate people who were doomed anyway – I rationalized by wondering if it was because they deserved the penalty for their sins. But that didn’t make sense to me because I knew that God did not desire for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Also, I deserve the penalty for my sin, but God doesn’t hate me. In addition, David said that he himself hated people with a perfect hatred. Was David righteous enough to hate an imperfect perfect person? No.

Next, I thought to myself – perhaps the meaning of “hate” has changed since 1611. For the next page or so of notes, I based all of my research on this idea. After all, we know that English words like “conversation” (lifestyle), “knew” (had sex with), “let” (hinder), “meat” (food), “quick” (living), “quit” (keep on), and “suffer” (allow) have all changed in meaning since 1611.

This argument was close enough, and I finally got some sleep.

Skip forward to today.

For the past 18 months or so, I have been studying Hebrew. And lately, I have learned a few things about their language and the way they see the world: Hate is not what I thought it was. Neither is love.

Try to fully define either of those words for yourself, and what do you get? Paragraphs of explanations and examples. They are called abstract ideas for a reason. And if you compare your perception of these nouns to anyone else’s, there will be inconsistencies, contradictions, arguments. I have discovered that the Western way of thinking is wholly to blame for this. The reason we don’t understand things such as faith, love, or hate is because we are looking at them through a Western lens.

The Word of God was penned by people who understood the reality of these terms. The Eastern mindset is concrete. In order to love someone, you have to do it, not feel it. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you don’t do it, then you don’t really feel it either. A mother who fails to feed her starving baby does not love that baby, no matter how she thinks she feels about him. Hate and many other abstract words function the same way.

When God spoke of hating Esau, He wasn’t telling us how He felt about them. He was telling us that He actively worked against them. He brought judgment down upon them. Not because He wanted to destroy them, but because His righteousness demands that all sin must be paid for.

In reality, He desired to save them, just as He desires to save everyone. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

If you persist in rejecting the Messiah’s substitutional sacrifice in your behalf, then you will necessarily pay for your own sins, which will prevent you from inheriting eternal life. (The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23)

So that’s the biblical definition of hate. Then what is love? The Almighty God loves us by doing what is best for us. God’s entire Law hinges on love. In it, He tells us how to live a healthy and successful life. The Law is love. The Law is life. After informing us of the best way to live, He allows us to choose whether we want to walk in the ways of life or abandon it.

If there is sin in our lives, then the Law prescribes correction. It’s not always pleasant, and it’s not always what we would choose for ourselves, but it is always best. If you are a parent that loves your child, then surely you have corrected him. Parenthood is the perfect object lesson. There’s a reason He calls Himself our Father.

So how do we even begin to love Him in return? I have one word for you, and that is obedience. Look it up. Read your whole Bible this year, and when you have finished it, tell me if I’m wrong. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

The following is a story about a lawyer who was trying to trick Jesus into tripping over His words. I believe that He wanted Jesus to belittle some of God’s words (making them less important in comparison to others). Here’s how the story goes:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

How did Jesus score? Did He pass the test? Yes, He did. His answer was rhetorical. All of God’s words are equally important. So Jesus said to love Him and love people. In doing these two things, you will walk in all of God’s commandments because:

Love for God = obedience

Love for your neighbor = lawful behavior toward mankind

Jesus’ response to the lawyer points out the weight of the whole Law. He had the same response for satan: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procedeeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 – not just some words, but all of them.

Time for a few more abstract terms:

Forgiveness. Have you ever wondered how to forgive someone? It’s not in how you feel about them. It’s how you behave toward them. It’s what you say behind their back; it’s how you treat them to their face.

What is faith? Behaving like you believe. That’s it. Faith manifests itself in action. It is the evidence of things not seen. If there’s no action, there’s no faith. James 2:18 is rhetorical: “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Read the whole chapter to get the big picture.

One more really controversial topic; I will say as little as possible while still making myself clear: homosexuality itself is concrete. If you aren’t sleeping with members of the same sex, then you aren’t a homosexual. If you sleep with a member of the same sex, and then stop again, then you aren’t a homosexual. In fact, we really shouldn’t be using the adjective homosexual to define a person at all. There is homosexuality – that is the noun, the act. For Christians to call another human being a homosexual is for Christianity to buy into the belief that we are born that way and have no say in the matter.

Perhaps you stole a candy bar from the gas station 30 years ago. Do you refer to yourself as a thief for the rest of your life? Perhaps you know the combination to the safe at work. You daydream about making off with the money and retiring to a tropical island. Do you refer to yourself as a thief because of your temptation? No. Thievery is what you do – how you behave. It is an action.

What about a recovering sugar-addict? You may dream about ice cream, donuts, and candy bars all day long. Yet you care more about your health, so you deny yourself sugar. (IMHO, this is the same reason that God told us not to commit homosexuality – because it’s not healthy, and he wanted us to know that it isn’t good for us.) Do you label yourself a sugar addict forever, or do your actions define who you really are?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t refrain from thinking homosexual thoughts. We should also refrain from fantasizing about burglary, extra-marital sex, vengeance, any number of things. Thoughts lead to action. However, I am worried about all of the kids and teens and even adults out there who are going to start labeling themselves as homosexuals just because an impure thought crossed their mind. We don’t label ourselves fornicators and adulterers at the slightest temptation. Why would we do the same for homosexuality? I’m afraid that these people will buy into the idea that they are “homosexuals” and that their belief will lead to behavior. What do you think?

Again, I know I’ve touched on some highly controversial topics here. I would venture to say that many Christians and many homosexuals will be offended by some of the things I’ve said here today. However, I do want to hear from you. My mind is forever adapting to new information, so I encourage any feedback you may have for me. Let’s just give our best effort to respect each other and keep things civil.